Assinating character over suggestions of assination

Glenn Reynolds:


History first: There’s nothing beyond the pale about suggesting assassination and covert action as an alternative to warfare. In 1998, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked the government to look into assassination as a means of dealing with terrorists; Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., suggested assassinating Saddam Hussein the same year. On Jan. 3, 2001, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., introduced legislation to facilitate the assassination of terrorists. And in 1997, George Stephanopoulos wrote: “A misreading of the law or misplaced moral squeamishness should not stop the president from talking about assassination. He should order up the options and see if it’s possible. If we can kill Saddam, we should.” If this be fascism, make the most of it.

Nor would such action be illegal. Assassination is forbidden by executive order. Nothing prevents the president from rescinding that order, or amending it. And as a 1989 memorandum by the Judge Advocate General of the Army notes, killing enemy leaders or weapons scientists isn’t even assassination: “Civilians who work within a military objective are at risk from attack during the times in which they are present within that objective, whether their injury or death is incidental to the attack of that military objective or results from their direct attack. ... Thus, more than 90 percent of the World War II Project Manhattan personnel were civilians, and their participation in the U.S. atomic weapons program was of such importance as to have made them liable to legitimate attack.

“Similarly, the September 1944 Allied bombing raids on the German rocket sites at Peenemunde regarded the death of scientists involved in research and development of that facility to have been as important as destruction of the missiles themselves. Attack of these individuals would not constitute assassination.”

International law is unlikely to be a problem either. The bombing attack on Moammar Qaddafi was legally justified, according to the State Department’s legal adviser, as an act of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter because of Qaddafi’s terrorist activities. The Iranian mullahs are worse, and are trying to get nuclear weapons besides.

Other law professors have, of course, made similar arguments, at far greater length than my blog post. Campos, himself a law professor, could have learned these things through a simple Google search, but apparently did not.

My traffic has had a spike of left wing referrals because of my defense of Reynolds and my observation that the Clinton administrations failure to take out bin Laden when they had the chance allowed him to plan and execute the 9-11 attacks. While the lefties are pooh poohing that observation, they are apparently over looking the fact that after the embassy bombings in Africa the Clinton administration did attempt to take out bin Laden. It must be a short term memory problem.


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